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Plants vs. Zombies


Plants beat Zombies every day of the week and twice on Sunday!
Plants vs. Zombies has been an absolute winner for Popcap Games on the Apple platforms, PC and Xbox Live, so it was just a matter of time before it would head to Nintendoís insanely popular handheld. Granted, itís not as exciting as a 3D version of the game for the upcoming 3DS, but the addictive nature of the gameplay is enough to hook any casual gamer into playing for hours upon hours. The presentation is very simple and doesnít really require any narrative. The only thing that you really need to know is that zombies want to get inside your house and plants are the only thing can save you. Who knew that gardening skills would be the most useful survival tool for the upcoming zombie apocalypse?!

plants vs zombies grass attackSilliness aside, the gameplay is really quite fantastic. Zombies approach the house from the right side of the screen and you are tasked with placing plants on the grass to ward off the flesh hungry uglies. Plants can be purchased with currency in the form of sunshine. This sunshine is collected from random drops during the level as well as sunflowers planted on your lawn. You basically have to balance sunflower production with offensive weapon production. You may have a vast field of sunflowers producing massive sunlight, but you are screwed without enough shooting plants. As the game progresses, new, more exotic plants are introduced into the game. You can set plant pellets on fire with flaming trash cans, setup walls with giant munchies or make zombies explode with well placed bombs. You can also start to reinforce plants with extra pots as well as use a line of lawnmowers to take out an entire row of zombies as your final line of defense. Plant placement is all controlled via dragging plants to positions on the lawn and works just as well as the other touch versions of PvZ.

During the original 50 missions, the landscape changes often and you will have to play at night often. During the midnight hour, zombies are stronger and sunlight isnít in abundance making for more difficult levels. There are also levels were you have to place potting planters within a swimming pool or on the roof to create a place to have plants. It adds an extra level of strategy to the game and often requires you juggling several different tasks in your head at once. Zombies also progress in difficulty from those that wear metal buckets on their heads to pole vaulting zombies that leap over obstacles. Between stages, you will have the opportunity to purchase upgrades from a crazy guy that seems to know quite a bit about these zombies. These upgrades are pretty expensive though and often require replaying levels to get the best gear.

plants vs zombies rooftop planterIn addition to the regular game, you also have a survival mode to conquer and a handful of mini-games. Survival mode is definitely entertaining, but the mini-games donít add much to the entire package. Just like the Xbox Live version of Plants vs. Zombies, there is multiplayer functionality built into the DS version. You can use Download Play to send a level to a friend or play with them directly if they also own a copy of the game.

Graphics

Visually, this is the worst looking version of Plants vs. Zombies by far, likely due to the rapidly aging DS hardware. Compared to the iPhone / iPod Touch version, you are going to see a notably choppy difference between the two versions. The stuttering problems are only increased when a massive amount of zombies populate the tiny DS screen. Itís distracting to the point of affecting the experience and even the gameplay. However, the game is extremely colorful and the character models look nearly as good as the original Apple version. The resolution is just a bit fuzzier than the iPhone. Iíd really be interested to see if the 3DS exhibits the same performance issues as the original DS.

plants vs zombies baseball
Audio

If you played the other versions, you will immediately notice the playful music with the halloweenish overtones. You will also hear the same sound effects like exploding cherry bombs or groaning zombies, slinking over the plush, green grass. The game does a really excellent job brining life to characters that have no voiceovers.

Conclusion

Unfortunately, this is the worst performing version of Plants vs. Zombies and oddly the most expensive. Itís designed to take advantage of the portion of the gaming population that wants a mobile version of the game, but doesnít have an iPhone, iPod Touch or iPAd to play it. I also have a tough time justifying a recommendation on this version of the game if you just as happy playing it on the Xbox 360 or PC. However, if you only have a DS, you are going to be hard pressed to find a game this addictive and entertaining released in the past few months. Playing through the entire 50 levels and spending time in the survival mode is going to eat up a fat chunk of your gaming time. Pick up Plants vs. Zombies for the Nintendo DS if you enjoy strategy games and donít have access to it on other platforms.



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